On October 24, 2017, the Philippines marked history by establishing a network of three national marine protected areas for the protection of green turtles. The network links El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary in Palawan and Tawi-Tawi provinces as part of the envisioned network of marine protected areas for the conservation of endangered green turtles within the Sulu-Sulawesi region, which is covered by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The establishment of the network was the highlight of the side-event during the 12th Conference of Parties of the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) (CMS COP12) entitled, “Establishing a safe haven for green turtles, Chelonia mydas”. CMS COP12 drew around 1,000 delegates from 124 countries.
Green turtles belong to the growing list of endangered marine migratory species. While identified as charismatic organisms, green turtles are threatened by pressures at various stages of their life cycles. Because of their wide-ranging migration across multiple nations and sometimes outside areas of national jurisdiction, conservation of green turtles requires concerted efforts and harmonized cooperation among the nations, international organization and various environmental agencies.
The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been able to lay the foundation for the network with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH through Conservation International Philippines (CIP) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
BMB, CIP, and GIZ facilitated the development of the network based on available scientific data that confirmed the common population of green turtles in the three marine parks.
The project is working to further strengthen enforcement in the Philippines and to improve sea turtle monitoring and management by gathering and analyzing additional information from available tagging data. The project employs these efforts at the regional level as a strategy to address threats to green turtles within the region. (SSS Project/ Victor Ramil Tumilba)